Las Vegas shooters prepared for a 'lengthy gunbattle'
The shooters who killed a pair of police officers and a bystander in Las Vegas on Sunday had expressed anti-government views, and police said they were looking at those views as part of the investigation of the violent episode.
"There is no doubt that the suspects have an ideology that's along the lines of militia and white supremacists," Assistant Sheriff Kevin McMahill told reporters Monday.
Police identified the shooters as married couple Jerad Miller, 31, and Amanda Miller, 22. The pair shot and killed Igor Soldo and Alyn Beck, two Las Vegas police officers, inside a CiCi's Pizza restaurant, police said, then went into a nearby Wal-Mart, where they shot and killed Joseph Wilcox, who was shopping in the store and tried to stop them. After a firefight with police officers inside the store, the couple took their own lives, authorities said.
While authorities said they believed the incident was an isolated, random act, they also said they were looking into the ideology of the two shooters. Police said they are investigating reports that one or both of the Millers went to the Nevada ranch of Cliven Bundy during a standoff with federal authorities this year. Bundy's long dispute with the federal government became a national story in April when an armed group of supporters converged on his ranch as part of a standoff with Bureau of Land Management agents looking to seize his cattle.
Ammon Bundy, one of Cliven Bundy's sons, told the Associated Press on Monday that the Millers were at the ranch for a few days this spring before being asked to leave for "conduct" reasons.
A neighbor of the Millers in Las Vegas told the Los Angeles Times that on Sunday morning, Jerad Miller had pulled out swastikas and an Army insignia and said he was going to put one on every police officer they killed.
"I'm thinking: 'Right. They're not going to do that,' " Kelly Fielder said. "I should have called the cops. I feel I have the deaths of five people on my shoulders. The signs were there."
Fielder described Jerad Miller as hateful of the government and President Barack Obama, and Amanda Miller as "a good girl who would do anything to make her man happy."
The Millers had numerous handguns, a shotgun and hundreds of rounds of ammunition with them Sunday.
"It appeared as if they were prepared for a lengthy gunbattle," McMahill said.
The couple first went into a CiCi's Pizza at about 11:20 a.m., finding two officers with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department on their lunch break.
Jerad Miller shot and killed Soldo, 31, who was married with a baby, police said. Both Millers proceeded to fire multiple shots at Beck, 41, a married father of six. The pair then took the slain officers out of their booth and laid them on the ground, covering Beck with a yellow Gadsden flag that read "Don't Tread on Me" and placing a swastika on his body.
They also pinned a note to Soldo that read, "This is the beginning of the revolution," McMahill said, and they repeated that phrase before leaving and heading to a nearby Wal-Mart.
Inside the Wal-Mart, Jerad Miller fired a single shot and told the shoppers to get out, again talking about "a revolution." Wilcox, who was standing near the registers and carrying a concealed weapon, watched this and told his friend he was going to confront the shooters.
Wilcox, 31, "immediately and heroically moved towards" Miller, McMahill said, not realizing that as he went to confront the shooter he walked right by Amanda Miller. She shot and killed Wilcox.
The Millers moved to the back of the store, positioned so they could engage officers who approached, McMahill said. Police were able to observe this movement from the Wal-Mart's surveillance area. Jerad Miller then laid down in front of his wife, who fired several rounds at him, killing him. She took her handgun and "ended her own life with one gunshot wound to the head," McMahill said.
Jerad Miller posted a lengthy statement on his Facebook page last week writing that the country was facing oppression that could be stopped only "with bloodshed."
Heidi Beirich, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project, said the Millers were committed to an anti-government belief system typified by hatred of law enforcement and the notion that the federal government has no authority over them.
"This isn't the first attack from people who show these kinds of beliefs," she said in a telephone interview. "They come to see the government as the enemy. The fact that these two shot cops is right in that line of thinking."
In 2010, a strain of anti-government rage was linked to the killing of two police officers by a father and son in West Memphis, Ark. That episode concluded in a Wal-Mart parking lot, where Jerry Ralph Kane Jr. and his 16-year-old son, Joseph, died in a firefight with law enforcement officials.
This year, a man plotted to kidnap and kill police officers in Las Vegas as part of the anti-government "sovereign citizen" movement, which believes that governments operate illegally. The FBI has called the sovereign citizens extremists and a "growing domestic threat" involved in violent and fatal encounters with law enforcement officials.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, there were 43 violent incidents between law enforcement officials and extremists, with 30 police officers shot and 14 killed, between 2009 and 2013.
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